You dont need to be a childcare expert to ensure your baby has the best start in life. Some things will come naturally to you but, to be confident you are fulfilling their needs and that they have the best possible opportunity to reach their full potential just follow the steps below;
Children need to be loved. Good care and support will give your child the secure base they need to begin exploring the world. Love, attention and support in the early years of a childs life can have a measurable impact on that childs physical, mental and emotional growth. Show your love whenever you get the opportunity. Cuddle, smile, encourage and play with your baby whenever you can. You wont spoil your baby by responding too quickly to their cries. Experts have shown that if you respond quickly when your baby is upset it will help develop the trust and, create a strong emotional bond between you.
Your baby needs to be in good health and have plenty of energy to help them grow. Make sure you attend baby clinic regularly to keep track of your babys growth and get the immunisations your baby needs.
Breastmilk or formula will provide all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life and, a large part of what they need up to their first birthday. Breastmilk is best. Studies have shown that it helps minimise the risk of your baby picking up certain illnesses. However, formula milk fed babies should thrive even if they dont get the extra benefits attached to breastmilk.
Sleep is an important part of a babys life. Its when you babys brain makes important connections. These connections form the basis of the pathways within the brain which will enable your baby to understand and interact with the world around them.
Tend to your babies physical needs promptly. If you take care of the basics your babys brain can concentrate on the more challenging things which are happening around them.
Speak to your baby
The best thing you can do to help stimulate your babys brain is, speak to them. Speaking to your baby makes them good communicators which, is a great stepping stone to doing well at school.
Talk to your child whenever you are together. They will respond if they know the words are directed at them, so try to maintain eye contact whilst you are speaking. You can ramble on about anything but, try to keep it relevant to what you are doing. Things such as mummys putting you a clean nappy on or mummys going to give you a nice warm bath are fine. You dont have to try to be educational all the time.
Read to your baby
Reading out loud to your baby is one of the most important things you can do to help develop your childs vocabulary and language development. Its also the perfect time for you to have a cuddle and help develop your babys social skills.
Stimulate their senses
For a young child to learn about the world around them they need to be exposed to it. Every new interaction is a learning process. A child can be over-stimulated so you dont want to engage your baby in activities 24 hours a day but, when they are interested in playing make sure that your provide a variety of toys and objects. Choose items which are different in shape, weight, texture and colour as well as items which can make a noise. You can play simple interactive games such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Go on walks and trips where your baby will meet other people. The simplest activities help brain development.
Make sure your child has plenty of room to play in. It will help them develop strong muscles, balance and good motor skills. They will need room to crawl initially, then cruise and walk as they develop. They will need room to explore without the need for too much negative interaction from you, so make the room as safe and childproof as possible.
Encourage new things
Dont frustrate your child by giving them toys which are intended for much older children. We all learn the simple things first and its better to get good at them before moving on to more demanding things. However, if something stretches your babys capabilities that can only be a good thing. If something doesnt come easy it will help your baby to develop if they have to think more about what they are doing. Problem solving will help their brain development. For example, if your baby is trying to put shapes through the correct hole and they are struggling, let them try for a while before you help. Then show how its done. Then let them try again themselves.
Look after yourself
The single most important thing in helping your baby to develop is you. So, if you are not feeling well make sure you seek professional advice immediately. Illnesses are easy to spot but, if you are finding it difficult to respond quickly and with empathy to your babys needs you may be depressed. Depression can effect a parents ability to interact with their child which can have a negative effect on the childs development. If you think you may be depressed speak to your doctor or health visitor immediately.
–Jackie is a mother of two boys and designs Baby Shoes for The Baby Shoe Company.
She writes for
The Baby Care Blog.